The term chemical is usually seen as an ugly word by those who are environmentally friendly (read hippies), but fear not! There is a whole discipline of chemistry devoted entirely to making molecule interactions fun for the whole ecosystem!
Green Chemistry runs on twelve basic principles/guidelines
Design Safer Chemicals/Products
Design less Hazardous Chemical Synthesis
Use Renewable Feedstock
Use Catalysts, not Stoichiometric Reagents
Avoid Chemical Derivatives
Maximize Atom Economy
Use Safer Solvents and Reaction Conditions
Increase Energy Efficiency
Design Chemicals and Products to Degrade Over Time
Analyze in Real Time to Prevent Pollution
Minimize the Potential for Accidents
Yes, once upon a time chemists could be heard saying things like "Dilution is the Solution to Pollution", but we have learned the error of our ways and are now trying to clean up our act! Part of green chemistry is letting people know what they can use as alternatives to harsh chemicals. There are lots of little ways to lessen our everyday use of "bad" chemicals.
Some of the harshest chemicals that people tend to use are cleaning agents. With the need to obtain godliness through cleanliness we often over look its far reaching effects. Hear are some Green Cleaning ideas that you can use at home
Laundry detergent can contain nasty things called ethyoxylates. These little buggers can act as hormone mimicing agents and mess with DNA and reproduction in many living creatures. To get your clothes clean without creating two-headed frogs try using a mix of borax, lemon juice, and hydrogen peroxide. The borax cleans most stains, the lemon juice gets out grease and the peroxide bulbbles away what gets left behind.
Ammonia and Bleach are two of the most common, and most powerful cleaners available. Unfortunately, bleach can aid in the formation of organochlorides. Other infamous organochlorides include DDT, you know, that stuff that has been banned in 98 countries? Instead of bleaching, try using a mix of baking soda and water on your counter tops and in your toilet. It even works on oven grease!
When it comes to windows, Windex is usually what we reach for first, but it is not the most environmentally friendly product available, thought they have recently reformulated to a more green combination. For a cheap but powerful substitute use diluted white vinegar or isopropyl alcohol. If the smell puts you off, remember, lemon juice is a great cleaner but it might take away from that streak free shine!
May this be a helping hand on your way to a greener household!
For more information on Green Chemistry and the 12 principles go to http://www.epa.gov/greenchemistry/